Retired local CEO made more than $500,000 last year despite zero hours worked

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by Craig Cheatham / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on November 19, 2013 at 8:39 AM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 19 at 8:39 AM

(KMOV) –News 4 a former CEO is raking in thousands after retiring in 2011 from St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In 2012 alone, Former CEO Richard Fleming was paid more than a half million dollars even though chamber records show he didn’t work at all.

Fleming came under fire during his last year as chamber president, partly based on News 4’s Craig Cheatham’s findings.

Dick Fleming dodged News 4 for months during an investigation into spending at the Chamber of Commerce, especially the spending on him.

The investigation examined financial records from dozens of chambers across the country, and revealed that during the two-year period of 2008-09, during the worst recession since the Great Depression, Fleming received total compensation of $1.8 million; making him the highest-paid chamber president in the country, even though job growth in St. Louis was flat.

During 2011, his last year at the chamber, Fleming pocketed even more; nearly $2.2 million in total pay, including a multi-year retirement and contract payout negotiated two years earlier.

Then, last year, the year after he retired, Fleming was paid $559,000 even though the chamber’s own records show Fleming averaged zero hours of work per week.

“We had a contractual obligation to pay him for the amount of that contract. ‘So, I’m a little confused. He left early, but was still paid for work that didn’t do?’ Dick asked to retire and the board agreed to honor the contract that it made with him in 2009,” said Thomas Voss.

Thomas Voss, the CEO of Ameren Corp., was the immediate past Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. He declined to say if Fleming was forced out.

“Dick resigned and the board accepted his resignation. And we decided to honor the contract we had with him.”

The chamber’s current president, Joe Reagan, made about $617,000 last year.

Thomas Voss, who is still on the board, insists the pay is consistent with what other executives in similar positions get for running the same type of organizations.

At the time of the original News 4 investigation two years ago, Jack Strauss, then an economics professor at SLU, told News 4, Dick Fleming was paid at the top of his pay scale for below average performance.

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